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8 books every social impact professional should read

Books for social impact professionals
Enhance your library of CSR, DEIB, ESG, and HR resources. The following books include everything from practical tips to inspiring stories to help improve your social impact strategy.

The work of corporate social impact is constantly shifting to reflect the values and cause areas in our global community.

Political cycles and new legislation can influence what workers want from their employers; current events (such the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements) can alter how employees relate to their company’s responsibility and diversity commitments.

It’s on the onus of every social impact professional — from CSR and DEIB managers to ESG and HR leaders — to stay up-to-date on the latest tactics and pioneering thought leadership to ensure that their organization is meeting the needs of employees and the wider community.

One way to continue your education is by reading a great book.

Listed in no particular order, here are several essential reads for social impact professionals. Books on this list can spark creative ideas for CSR strategies and help you understand how the world’s most innovative enterprises make an impact. A few of them might even reignite your zeal for corporate social responsibility work.

1. A guidebook on effective CSR

Build an effective CSR strategy

Get back to basics and learn from David Gaines, CEO and founder of the ethical coffee company, La Terza Coffee.

You’ll learn how to apply the principles of social ventures to any business with real-life case study examples of companies that elevated their organization’s profits by improving their practices, ranging from supply chain management to employee benefits.

2. Connecting professionals with purpose

The Purpose Economy book for social impact professionals

In his updated version of The Purpose Economy, author Aaron Hurst outlines how professionals from all walks of life seek to infuse social impact into their work. Using cutting-edge research, entrepreneur interviews, and a survey of over 100,000 individuals, this book highlights how social impact and economic engines intersect, and how leaders across industries are pioneering more satisfying career paths.

3. Expert ways to elevate diversity, equity, and inclusion


Explore this insightful, handbook-style read to infuse new ideas into your DEIB initiative. You’ll understand why many corporate diversity plans fall short in making everyone feel like they belong, learn how to critically analyze your company’s DEIB strategy, and get “no-nonsense” tips to create an authentic, effective DEIB strategy at your company.

Authored by the corporate diversity and inclusion expert, Lily Zheng (they/them).

4. A guide with practical social impact strategy tips

Change for good

In Change for Good, social impact pioneer Paul Klein succinctly outlines how businesses can move beyond what he refers to as “corporate social responsibility light” to making measurable, systemic impact. One prime recommendation? Include community members in your social impact planning, so that strategies target the real needs of vulnerable groups.

Schedule a demo with to learn how social impact experiences can incorporate nonprofit partners and community members into each event.

5. A primer on intersectionality

Intersectionality in the workplace

This tome by Leah Thomas is a primer on intersectionality. It examines how social impact professionals can consider corporate initiatives such as sustainability through the lens of DEIB work.

Thomas dissects the complexity of social impact work and illuminates how the links between environmentalism, racism, and privilege conveys “the fundamental truth that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people.” It is an essential read for any budding or seasoned CSR leader.

6. A classic from a world-renowned founder

Let My People Go Surfing social impact

Take a page out of Patagonia’s world-renowned playbook and read this classic from founder and CEO Yvon Chouinard.

The author shares his unique path from outdoorsman to corporate life, along with ways his conscious leadership empowered Patagonia employees to thrive in the workplace and foster a positive company culture.

7. All about ESG strategy

ESG Matters for social impact

Environment, social, and governance (ESG) principles acknowledge that financial success needn’t be separate from positive social impact.

Here, authors Dr. Debra L. Brown and David A.H. Brown share how business leaders can leverage their market power to support worthy initiatives and outperform their competitors.

8. An inspiring read on conscious business

Regenerative Business

Author Samantha Garcia shares how the natural world can inspire business leaders and decision makers to build businesses that don’t just harm the environment less, but help revive wild places, resources, and systems.

An inspiring read for any social impact professional who loves nature.

Learn how can enhance your company’s social impact initiatives. Schedule a demo with a member of our team.


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